Few churches in Campbell County can say they saw the Civil War begin and end. In Jellico, the Good Hope United Baptist Church was a fixture when Abraham Lincoln himself was a young man.
On Oct. 9, 1844, a small church was started in present-day Jellico. In those days, before the coal rush, the town was known as Smithburg. At that time, the area’s residents had to travel several miles to Jellico Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky for weekly worship. That changed when the Jellico Creek Baptist Church built Good Hope Meeting for the mountain’s residents.
“That church was there when there was nothing there,” said the Rev. John Loudin.
Unfortunately, little is known about how the church weathered the Civil War and the last of the 1800s. Church records and the original building were destroyed in a fire more than 50 years ago. The oldest records date only to 1963. Even deed records for the building only date to 1898 due to a fire at the courthouse. Despite the missing history, the church itself hasn’t closed its doors in any of the last 168 years.
“If that church could tell the tales it had in those walls,” Loudin said.
Being that old leaves a mark on the community. Good Hope has served as the mother church for several Baptist churches in the county including the Jellico First Baptist Church and the Oswego Baptist Church.
The church will celebrate homecoming on Oct. 7. Sunday school beings at 10 a.m. and worship begins at 10 a.m. with preaching from the Rev. Woody Jackson and music from Gene and Teresa Waters. A meal will follow the service.
The church, located at 111 Good Hope Lane, is near Indian Mountain State Park in Jellico.